3 STANDARD RADIO PROCEDURES FOR SAR TEAMS It is imperative that all members of a search team be familiar with proper radio use since many operations require that searchers carry and use a radio.Search team members should practice and follow proper radio protocols until they become second nature.
4 STANDARD RADIO PROCEDURES FOR SAR TEAMS Standard TerminologySince SAR radio communications in Newfoundland and Labrador are carried mostly on EMO, EPC and local policing channels, searchers should attempt to follow standard radio procedures and terminology as closely as possible.If exact terminology is forgotten, urgent communications should be transmitted in the most appropriate form possible.Idle chat, non-emergency communications, profanity, personal references and the transmission of confidential material must be avoided.
5 STANDARD RADIO PROCEDURES FOR SAR TEAMS ProtocolsDifferent jurisdictions may have different communication protocols however, the station serving the Search Manager is considered “Command” and all communications from the field must be directed through the search manager.
6 STANDARD RADIO PROCEDURES FOR SAR TEAMS Intra-Team CommunicationsIndividual SAR teams that may need to communicate between each other may be instructed by command to operate on a separate frequency.Due to topography, some teams may not be able to communicate with command, and as a result, may have to rely on intra-team communications to relay information back to command.
7 STANDARD RADIO PROCEDURES FOR SAR TEAMS Message ContentIt is essential that only important information be broadcasted.Messages should be short, exact and easily understood.Compose your message before you communicate to ensure there will be no misunderstanding.To confirm that a message has been understood, ask for a “Read Back”.Radio reception is variable and your full message should be transmitted during your first contact. Sometimes, you may not be able to make contact again.
8 STANDARD RADIO PROCEDURES FOR SAR TEAMS Radio LogsCommand must maintain a detailed log of all radio communications during a SAR mission.This log will allow the overhead team to review what has been done and it may also become a legal document for court.For legal purposes, the communications log must be recorded in a fully bound notebook from which pages cannot be removed without leaving a trace.
9 GENERAL RADIO CHARACTERISTICS Many different types of radios with different features and characteristics are available for SAR use in the province, however, most have the following features in common:
10 GENERAL RADIO CHARACTERISTICS On/Off/Volume SwitchThis is usually a single knob, and volume increases as it is clicked on and turned clockwise.Most radios will beep when they are initially turned on to indicate that they are powered up.Some radios will beep twice quickly to indicate that they are low on battery power.Set the radio volume at a level in which it can be easily heard and understood, but not to loud as it may result in distortion.
11 GENERAL RADIO CHARACTERISTICS SquelchMost radios have automatic squelch control, however some have a knob which enables the user to reduce the static when no transmission is coming in.To set a radio for the most sensitivity but no static noise, turn the squelch knob until you hear static, and then back it off until the static just disappears.
12 GENERAL RADIO CHARACTERISTICS Channel SwitchSome radios are capable of using just one frequency however, most are capable of using more than one.Searchers must be absolutely sure which channels are being used and their purposes before leaving on a task.
13 GENERAL RADIO CHARACTERISTICS Push to Talk (PTT) SwitchThis is a button located on the side of a portable or on the microphone.When depressed, the radio is in “transmitter mode” and you can talk.When released, the radio reverts to “receiver mode” and you can listen.Always wait 1-2 sec after you have depressed the PTT button before you begin to transmit your message.Do not try to transmit a message when the radio is receiving communications from another station.
14 GENERAL RADIO CHARACTERISTICS AntennaEnsure that the antenna is properly attached before trying to transmit a message.Telescoping antennae should be fully extended before receiving communications.
15 BASIC RADIO OPERATING PROCEDURES The principles of operation are generally similar and fairly simple for most makes of hand-held radios.
16 BASIC RADIO OPERATING PROCEDURES To ActivateTurn on the on/off/volume switch and adjust the volume.Adjust squelch until static noise just disappears.Adjust the channel switch to the desired channel.
17 BASIC RADIO OPERATING PROCEDURES To TransmitDo NOT interrupt any other radio traffic.Hold the microphone several inches from your mouth.Press the PTT button, wait a couple of seconds and then transmit message in a normal voice.
18 BASIC RADIO OPERATING PROCEDURES To SpeakDo not raise your voice, mumble, shout, speak to fast or run your words together.Avoid meaningless pauses between words.Keep the rate of speech constant, keeping in mind that an operator may have to write it down.Always use the phonetic alphabet when spelling or giving letters and use the 24-hour clock when stating time.
19 PHONETIC ALPHABETThe phonetic alphabet is an internationally recognized alphabet and should be used to avoid confusion when transmitting difficult or unusual words.Letter Word PronunciationA Alfa Al FAHB Bravo BRAH VOHC Charlie CHAR LEED Delta DELL TAHE Echo ECK OHF Foxtrot FOKS TROTG Golf GOLFH Hotel HOH TELLI India IN DEE AHJ Juliett JEW LEE ETTK Kilo KEY LOHL Lima LEE MAHM Mike MIKEN November NO VEM BERO Oscar OSS CAHP Papa PAH PAHQ Quebec KEH BECKR Romeo ROW ME OHS Sierra SEE AIR RAHT Tango TANG GOU Uniform YOU NEE FORMV Victor VIK TAHW Whiskey WISS KEYX X-ray ECKS RAYY Yankee YANG KEYZ Zulu ZOO LOO
20 TRANSMITTING NUMBERS Numbers should be pronounced as follows: 0 = ZE-RO1 = WUN2 = TOO3 = TREE4 = FOH-er5 = FIVE6 = SIX7 = SEV-en8 = AIT9 = NYN-er
21 TRANSMITTING NUMBERSAll numbers except whole thousands should be transmitted by pronouncing each digit separately.Whole thousands should be transmitted by pronouncing each digit followed by the word “thousand”.The following are examples of how to transmit numbers:10 one zero50 five zero200 two zero zero3500 three five zero zeroone five thousand
22 STATING TIME All time should be stated using the 24-hour clock. Time should be expressed using four figures; the first two represents the hour past midnight and the second two represents the minutes past the hour.The following are examples of how to transmit time:12:45 am 004512:00 noon 120012:00 midnight 2400 or 00003:15 pm 151510:30 pm 22306:25 am 0625
23 STANDARD RADIO CODESUsing standard radio codes will enable radio transmissions to be more easily understood especially when transmission is difficult.Avoid using police “10” codes. The only 10 code that should be transmitted is which is used to indicate that a subject has been found dead. Many SAR teams used “Situation Delta” for a death code.Avoid slang and CB expressions such as “breaker-breaker”, “ten-four”, “over and out” and “okay”.
24 STANDARD RADIO CODES Code Meaning ACKNOWLEDGE Confirm that message is received and understoodAFFIRMATIVE YesCHANNEL change to channelCONFIRM confirm a message has been correctly receivedCORRECTION An error has been made in the message. The correct version is …DISREGARD Consider message as not sentGO AHEAD proceed with messageHOW DO YOU READ? How well is the transmission being readI SAY AGAIN Repeats the messageMAYDAY Distress transmissionMONITOR Listen to specified channel…cont’d
25 STANDARD RADIO CODES Code Meaning NEGATIVE No OUT End of conversation, no further response expectedOVER End of transmission, response expectedREAD BACK Repeat all of the message back to the senderROGER transmission receivedSAY AGAIN Asks the sender to repeat the message.STAND BY unable to receive message now, please wait a few seconds or minutesTHAT IS CORRECT confirms that the message read back is correctVERIFY checks the correctness of the message with the senderWORDS TWICE each word is sent twice during difficult communications.
26 CALL SIGNS A call sign is a name that is assigned to a specific radio. The most common call signs used in SAR operations are “Base”, “Team One”, “Team Two”, etc.During a SAR operation every radio, base or portable must be assigned a call sign.Call signs should be used for both initiating and finishing calls.The following is a simple example of how to initiate a call:TEAM ONE, THIS IS BASE, OVERBASE, THIS IS TEAM ONE, GO AHEAD, OVER
27 CALL SIGNSWhen more than one station is being called at the same time, the stations should reply in the order they were called, for example:TEAMS ONE, THREE AND FIVE, THIS IS BASE, OVERBASE, THIS IS TEAM ONE, OVERBASE, THIS IS TEAM THREE, OVERBASE THIS IS TEAM FIVE, OVER
28 CALL SIGNSOnce all teams have responded, Base would give the message to the teams. All stations should then acknowledge the message in the appropriate order as follows:BASE, THIS IS TEAM ONE, ROGER, OUTBASE, THIS IS TEAM THREE, ROGER, OUTBASE, THIS IS TEAM FIVE, ROGER, OUTAny time a station is contacted but is not ready to receive a message, the operator should respond to the call and advise the calling station to “Stand By”, followed by an approximate time of delay.
29 CHECKING RADIO SIGNALAll field teams that are assigned a radio must perform a radio check before commencing their assignment.All teams should contact the base station and request a radio check similar to the following:BASE, THS IS TEAM ONE, RADIO CHECK 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, OVERThe base station will then reply to the radio check using the following scale:1 = Bad (unreadable)2 = Poor (readable now and then, “breaking up”)3 = Fair (readable but with difficulty)4 = good (readable)5 = Excellent (perfectly readable)Based on the scale the base station may respond as follows:TEAM ONE, THIS IS BASE, READING YOU STRENGTH FOUR, OVER
30 CHECKING RADIO SIGNALWhen traversing through rough and hilly terrain, radio checks should be performed periodically to ensure adequate communication.If the base station cannot be reached, the operator must try to communicate to another team, which will in turn, relay the message to the base.
31 TROUBLESHOOTINGThe most common problems associated with portable radio are Batteries.Over time, rechargeable batteries lose their capacity and as a result will last for shorter periods of time, even if they are kept charged.Every SAR member issued a portable, should check the voltage of their batteries and should always carry spare charged batteries.Cold weather will reduce the operation time of a fully charged battery. In cold weather, keep the radio protected inside of your jacket.To test if there is a problem with the battery, switch batteries with a working radio.Ensure battery terminals and contacts are always kept clean.
32 TROUBLESHOOTINGIf the problem is not with the battery, check all connections for proper fit or corrosion.Most portables are not waterproof; protect the radio from rain, snow and any form of moisture.If the radio signal is breaking up, trying moving around or up to a higher point, since most portables are VHF and transmit only on line of sight.In areas with rough, hilly terrain, the only solution to inconsistent communications may be the use of Drop Repeaters. These are portable repeaters which can be placed on a point of high elevation to allow VHF transmissions to clear line of sight obstacles.Using a repeater takes time to get use to since all transmissions are repeated twice.
33 REFERENCESMerry, Wayne, 1999, Basic Ground Search and Rescue in Canada: A Home Study Guide, Context North.Smith, Richard; LaValla, Richard; Hood, Rick, Lawson, Norm and Kerr, Guy, 2003, Field Operating Guide to Search and Rescue (FOG SAR) - SAR Skills Handbook, ERI Canada, Alberta, Canada.Newfoundland and Labrador Search and Rescue Association, 2002, Provincial Training Standards Manual.